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  • Writer's pictureAbu Dhabi Review

Zayed National Museum recreates Magan Boat in partnership with Zayed University and New York University Abu Dhabi


Magan Boat during the sea trials off the coast of Abu Dhabi. Photo by Emily Harris © Zayed National Museum
Magan Boat during the sea trials off the coast of Abu Dhabi. Photo by Emily Harris © Zayed National Museum

An 18-meter long replica of a Magan boat has triumphantly sailed off the coast of Abu Dhabi, marking a groundbreaking achievement for the Zayed National Museum's ambitious research program.


This significant milestone underscores the collaborative effort between Zayed University and New York University Abu Dhabi (NYU Abu Dhabi), aimed at illuminating the UAE's rich maritime heritage and Bronze Age trade practices.


Magan Boat project. Photo by Emily Harris © Zayed National Museum
Magan Boat project. Photo by Emily Harris © Zayed National Museum

Known as a Magan Boat in ancient times, the vessel was meticulously constructed using raw materials and techniques dating back to 2100 BCE, as detailed on an ancient clay tablet. During its sea trials in the Arabian Gulf, the boat covered an impressive 50 nautical miles (92.6 km) under the guidance of UAE National sailors and a team of shipwrights from the region, accompanied by the UAE Coastguard.


Crafted by specialists in historical replicas, the boat's outer hull was ingeniously fashioned from 15 tons of locally sourced reeds, bound with date palm fiber ropes and coated in bitumen—an ancient waterproofing method found in recent archaeological discoveries on Umm an-Nar island.


Students working on Magan Boat reconstruction. Photo by Emily Harris © Zayed National Museum

The Magan Boat project, launched in 2021, serves as a pioneering effort in experimental archaeology, merging disciplines such as archaeology, anthropology, and engineering. It aims not only to deepen our understanding of ancient Emirati lifestyles but also to preserve traditional crafts and foster national pride.


"This reconstruction represents millennia of Emirati innovation and exploration," remarked His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi. He emphasised the boat's role in highlighting Abu Dhabi's historical significance and its connections with other ancient civilisations.



The Magan Boat will soon be showcased at the Zayed National Museum on Saadiyat Island, offering visitors a tangible connection to the UAE's maritime legacy and its pivotal role in ancient global trade networks. As part of broader initiatives exploring Abu Dhabi's Bronze Age prominence, ongoing archaeological efforts continue to reveal the island's central role in international commerce during antiquity.



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